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August 6, 2001

The Daily Prospectus

Any Good Games Last Night?

by Joe Sheehan

Dear Davey,

Please accept, as my gift to you, this videocassette. On it, you'll find the Indians/Mariners game from August 5. I've cued it to the top of the seventh inning.

Love,
Rickey

Any small shred of credibility left to the unwritten rule about when a team should stop trying its hardest to score went out the window last night around 11:15 p.m. Eastern, when the Indians scored unanswered runs 10, 11, and 12 to complete the greatest comeback since the Roaring Twenties.

Now, as a Baseball Columnist Guy, I'm supposed to give you some analysis of this historic game. Well, I have a confession: I saw very little of it. I'm actually on an extended weekend in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and even though the game was on ESPN, I wasn't really giving it my full attention. So I can't provide any detailed insight (setting aside the question of whether I ever do), but I can tell you the evening was a bit surreal on this end.

Around 5:30 p.m. Pacific, I emerged from a shower and began to flip between the Tribe game and the Cubs/Dodgers on ESPN2. While watching the latter, the ticker at the bottom of the screen informed me that he 1-0 game I'd left had become 8-0 in about the time it took me to get dressed. I tuned back to it in time to watch somebody named Mike Bacsik put a whole bunch of runners on base. At 12-0, I went back to the Cubs/Dodgers game, wondering if Rich Yett was driving to the Jake to throw some mop-up relief.

Around 7:30, my better half and I (and our friend Teri), meandered over to pick up another couple from their room. When we arrived, the TV was tuned to the blowout, instead of the 2-1 Dodgers/Cubs contest. I asked E.J. why he was watching this game that was over (yeah, my exact words) instead of the Dodgers/Cubs game. He hadn't realized the Dodger game was on, and immediately flipped to ESPN2.

Unimpressed by the close game, the women in the group insisted we head out to dinner. No problem--the Tiki Terrace has a big screen! We reached the restaurant in time to see Matt Herges end a Cub rally.

Somewhere in the next few minutes, while deciding between wings and a grilled chicken sandwich (the answer is "C: Both"), I happened to notice the ticker flash "Seattle 14, Cleveland 9." I relayed the information to E.J., along with a flippant, "That'd be sweet if they came back." Of course, this was the Mariners, with the Bullpen of Death and a five-run lead. The Tribe had as much chance of coming back as our group did of passing on the "Bucket of Mai Tais." Or stopping at one.

During the top of the ninth in Los Angeles, ESPN2 cut in to show a half-empty ballpark, with guys in white shirts running the bases like madmen. 14-11, bottom of the ninth. Now, we're getting no audio at the restaurant, so everything is being conveyed by the images. The images tell us we want the Dodgers to get another out so we can see the end of the other game. (Switching was not an option: the combination of alcohol, heat, and irritated Dodgers fans wouldn't have been a pleasant sight.)

Thanks, Jeff Shaw. A 2-0 slider gets a bit higher than it should have, and Sammy Sosa deposits it in the right-field grandstand. Everybody groans, the TV stays on ESPN2, and a few minutes later, another shot of guys in white running like madmen. After the promo for the X Games, though, we got the update: 14-14.

I was debating going back to my room at that point. Actually, I was debating never again taking a vacation during baseball season, while wondering if I could slip away with the Mai Tais. No such luck, so I watched the Dodgers and Cubs trade scoreless half-innings to set up the bottom of the tenth. With two outs, Gary Sheffield's double was followed by an intentional walk to Shawn Green, bringing up Eric Karros. Karros had already seen the Cubs walk Green to face him once, and had ended two Dodger rallies in regulation.

Single to left. Joy in Los Angeles. Frantic hand-waving in Lake Havasu City, as we try to get the waiter to switch to ESPN even before Sheffield crosses the plate. After some hesitation ("Dude, the game's over! Change it! CHANGE IT!!!!!"), the waiter guy seals his big tip by flipping to ESPN, and a tied game in the bottom of the tenth.

At this point, I'm trying to convey to my group what was happening, to considerable apathy. At the time, I thought it might be the greatest comeback ever (it wasn't), and I had MISSED IT. Well, most of it. And I'd told E.J. to miss it. Bad baseball guy, bad!

The food finally arrived somewhere in here, but the Mariners and Indians were nice enough to not score for a few minutes, so we didn't miss anything. I did enjoy saying that both teams had probably cleared their benches just in time for a graphic to appear showing us that the Indians had no players left. Blind squirrel, meet acorn.

Suddenly, we were watching vehicles. The TV had been switched back to ESPN2. It took a second for us to realize what had happened: the first reaction was to think it was a commercial. Nope. We plotted our next move: ask them to change it again? Go back to our rooms? Take hostages?

And then my better half points behind me and says, "Is that the same game?"

On a small screen, in the left-hand corner behind the bar, Jose Paniagua was warming up. I hadn't been so happy since...since...OK, since my wings had arrived.

A few minutes later, it was over. Jolbert Cabrera singled, Kenny Lofton scored, there was a leader in the clubhouse for "Game of the Decade," and my friends had another "Joe is such a baseball geek" story to tell.

Me? I had a column for Monday, and a mustache full of wing sauce. That, my friends, is what we call a happy ending.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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